Crown attorney David Boulet opened the prosecution’s murder case against Ross Dion by telling the jury that Heeley Rae Balanga “died brutally,” by blunt force trauma.
Dion, 47, is charged with first-degree murder and arson in connection to Balanga’s death in May of 2018.
Balanga’s body was found in her Aino Beach Road home near Little Britain on May 29, 2018 after emergency services were called to the home around 5 a.m. to investigate a fire.
At the commencement of the trial, Dion pleaded not guilty to both charges.
On Wednesday, July 21, in the Superior Court of Justice in Lindsay, Boulet addressed the jury with an opening statement, which outlined the prosecution’s case and some of the evidence he plans to present to the jury.
At the time of the alleged murder, Boulet said Balanga and her common-law partner, Dion, were having relationship problems.
Boulet suggested both were drug users. Boulet said Balanga suffered a back injury in a plane crash and was prescribed painkillers, which she eventually started buying from the streets.
“She was addicted to opioids,” he explained.
On the day of her death, Balanga was supposed to leave for Toronto to attend the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health for an opioid rehab program.
“There lives began to go in different directions,” Boulet told the jury.
Sunny Balanga, the victim’s mother, pulled no punches when it came to her feelings about her daughter’s relationship with the accused.
Sunny told the court that her daughter met Dion in a bar in 2015, shortly after Balanga separated from her husband in 2014. Sunny said Dion quickly moved into her daughter’s apartment, and it made her uneasy because a strange man was now living with her daughter.
“It was a little scary and I didn’t like it,” she told the court.
The first time she met Dion at her daughter’s Toronto apartment, Sunny said she felt something was off.
“I really needed to get out of there. I went home with a heavy heart,” she said.
“A feeling of dread.”
Over the next while, Sunny said anytime she would talk with her daughter the conversation would start with, “Is he gone, yet?”
“I needed him to be gone.”
At first, Sunny thought the relationship would fizzle out because her daughter kept telling her it was a temporary situation and she could never be in a relationship with Dion because he was “despicable person,” but one day Sunny said she received a dreaded phone call from her daughter to say that she was giving the relationship with Dion a chance because she thought she could change him .
“She might as well have told me she had Stage 4 cancer,” Sunny explained.
“I was shocked. I thought it was the worst news I could get.”
Further, Sunny said he daughter was on cloud 9 and she was in hell.
“Heeley’s life was going down the toilet. I begged for her not to do it because it was very bad move. I didn’t expect to be this right.”
Sunny continues her chief examination on Thursday, July 22.